PHOENIXVILLE — Borough council acted Tuesday night on parking issues created by the recent limiting of parking on several streets in a section of the borough.
Council voted 5-3 to extend permit privileges to tenants of the Byrne Lofts at 200 Lincoln Ave. after the street parking once utilized there was changed to a “Zone A” area that limits parking to 2-hours for non-permit holders.
The residents and businesses at the Byrne Lofts were not on the borough’s list of approved entities that could purchase the permits.
“During our time in Phoenixville, we’ve had problems with parking,” said Noah Dingler, vice president of DesignThink Studios, a business in the Byrne Lofts building. “Our employees are there at least eight hours a day, sometimes more. We need places for them and also for our clients.”
Dingler said the business began elsewhere in the borough, near the “main corridor” but moved once parking was limited to two hours on streets near the former location. Having the two-hour restrictions hurts the business, he said, because several employees drive in and clients have difficulty finding parking.
Charles Bartholomew, the Byrne Lofts’ on-site manager, said the borough’s planning commission and council in 2005 approved the Byrne Lofts with 33 street spaces to supplement a little more than 75 on-site parking spaces.
The Byrne building contains more than 70 residential units with more than 100 residents and houses four companies in addition to DesignThink.
Jeff Little also spoke on his and his neighbors in the area of Gay and Morgan streets’ inability to get a parking permit. Another resident said the nearest place she can park to her home is three blocks away.
Not long after the public comment, Councilwoman Jen Mayo said she’d gotten letters from residents on the limiting of parking.
“Anytime we do a big change like this, there’s always going to be some things we have to work out,” Mayo said. “I’m working with (Borough Manager Jean Krack) to schedule a parking steering committee meeting for early May.”
“One of the hardest things on council is that you can’t make everybody happy,” Mayo continued. “I’m not going to be able to make everybody happy but we will do our best to work out the issues that we are dealing with.”
Near the end of the meeting, Mayo brought up a resolution that was not on the agenda to add the Byrne Lofts to the borough’s parking permit eligibility list.
Councilman Mike Kuznar, from the Middle Ward, like Mayo, was cautious since the change was not talked about before the meeting.
“Every time we make a parking change it feels like we’re shooting from the hip,” he said.
Mayo assured Kuznar that she wasn’t doing that and that she was familiar with the area as a member of the parking steering committee, as well as living nearby.
“I think this is a no-brainer,” she said.
Shai Perednik, another councilman, asked to table the motion to grant permit eligibility to Byrne Lofts residents so they could examine the “consequences” of such an action.
Mayo did not see value in delaying permit eligibility.
“In another month, what would we do?” she said. “First, we would probably have 30 people in the Byrne building that have nowhere to park. We’re going to piss them off. And then, over the next month, it goes back to policy (committee), which we’ve already discussed. What would happen? What would you like to see happen in that month?”
Perednik’s attempt to table the motion failed, with just his and Kuznar’s votes for it.
“Unfortunately, parking is reactive,” Krack said. “You try to get ahead of it and be proactive, it doesn’t work quite that easily. The committee is trying to do the best that it can. It’s going through difficult times.”
However, Councilman Jon Ichter Jr. said he desired to be more “proactive than reactive” moving forward and felt Mayo’s measure was the latter.
Ultimately, Ichter Perednik and Jeremy Dalton were the ones against allowing permits for Byrne Lofts residents in the 5-3 vote.
Following that, council voted unanimously to delay ticketing cars in the newly established Zone A permit areas so the parking steering committee could tackle the problems and potentially come up with a solution.
“Parking is an issue. We understand it is an issue,” Council President Jim Kovaleski said. “We’re not trying to be punitive to the residents, we’re trying to work with the residents and make it better for people. So I appreciate the patience.”